Author Topic: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives  (Read 6518 times)

Offline Rhino

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Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« on: October 20, 2010, 02:53:15 am »
I really enjoy the Tormek. 

Question 1

Say I want to bring all my kitchen knife set maybe 12 knives to razor sharpness to impress my wife and to justify the cost of the machine.

How would you go about it?

Set up paring knife in jig.
Set the angle.
Grade the stone for rough.
Grind.
Grade the stone for fine.
Grind.
Polish with the leather wheel.

Set up Chef's knife.
Set the angle.
Grade the stone for rough.
Grind.
Grade the stone for fine.
Grind.
Polish with the leather wheel.

As you can see, this can take all morning for a set of 12 kitchen knives of different sizes.  I have paring knives, carvers, boning knives, cleavers, chef's knives, and a few others.  It will take me a long time.

The alternative is to measure the angle and do all the knives with the rough stone.  Grade. Finish all the knives with the fine graded stone.  I guess I should try to clamp all the knifes at the same place so the angle of sharpening at the tip is about the same.  But this is less precise but I guess close enough.

So how would you go about it?  Or maybe with experience it will all go faster?

Question 2

I have two brands of knives.  Hinckel and Martha Stewart.  The Hinckel knives seem to take the edge better.  The Martha Stewarts I took out a lot of metal to establish the edge, but still the knives never seem quite as sharp.  and they dull fast Is this normal.  I thought I could use cheaper knives and put on a great edge since I have the ultimate grinder.  I thought the cheaper knives are cheaper because less money was spent in shaping the blades.  Now, it seems to me the steel is not as good for holding an edge.  I still need to have a good knife to be happy with the edge.

Thank you for your help.  Much appreciated

Offline ionut

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 03:24:41 am »
Hi Rhino,

I am not a knife specialist neither I know the brands you are asking about. If the edge does not stay sharp enough and the knife  was sharpened properly it is most likely a bad/cheap quality steel or the tamper of the blade is gone or the knife has been used to chop  concrete,  :) just kidding with the concrete. Common  stainless steel is not that great on holding edges,  from what I know.
For the first question I would probably grind all of them on the course grade, grade the stone and re-clamp the knives setup the angle and go with the finer grit. It is easier to setup the angle (the  angle master most likely will not have to be changed between knives) than grading and re-grading the stone. But again that’s my opinion.

Ionut

Offline Ken S

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 12:34:09 pm »
Rhino,  Like so many of us, you are paying the piper for all the years you did not sharpen your knives.  I would suggest focusing on three knives, the ones you use the most.  In my case, that would be the chef's knife, the paring knife, and the six inch slicing knife. (The most used knives will be the ones with the smallest remaining traces of the manufacturer's printing left on the blades.) That would make cooking the day's dinner more pleasant.  It would also prevent you from having a mindset of having to hurry.

I recall a comment in one of James Beard's book about a fine set of knives being at least as valuable as the good silver, and should last as long.  I have enjoyed using Hinckel knives for more than twenty years.  I use them daily, much more than any of my Kitchenaid or Cuisinart.  They are a joy to use, and I remove steel very carefully.  Do not make a chef's knife into a paring knife in haste.

Ron Hock's book on sharpening has a well written section on knife sharpening (including thinning the bolster).  I recommend acquiring a copy.

Offline Jeff Farris

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 01:59:16 pm »
Rhino,

Unless the knife is badly damaged, I doubt you will need the coarse cutting action at all. I do almost all knife sharpening with the fine cutting action and the leather wheel.

Watch your honing angle on the Martha Stewart knives. You may have brought the angle too high and flattened the edge. As others have said, cheap knives are cheap because the steel is inferior. You can put an edge on them, but it won't last.
Jeff Farris

Offline Herman Trivilino

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2010, 04:05:29 am »
The Martha Stewarts I took out a lot of metal to establish the edge, but still the knives never seem quite as sharp.  and they dull fast Is this normal. 

It sounds like you never got them sharp to begin with.  Try getting just one of them sharp.  As you sharpen you should be able to feel a burr develop on the upper side of the knife, along the edge.  If you don't feel the burr, you haven't yet removed enough steel.  As you sharpen, keep examining the underside of the knife near the edge.  You should be able to see the bevel you're creating, and watch it get wider as you remove more steel.  As soon as you feel the burr all along the edge, you're done with that side.  Flip it over and repeat on the other side.  Now comes the hard part.  Removing that burr.  I find that the leather wheel often won't remove it.  With the stone graded fine, sharpen one side lightly, then flip over and repeat on the other side.  Just a few seconds on each side until that burr is weak enough and small enough to remove with the leather wheel.

If the knife is sharp you can cut through a sheet of paper that's held up in the air by your free hand.  The paper won't tear.  If it tears, you've not removed the burr, or you never created a burr when you sharpened it.

Practice on cheap knives.
Origin: Big Bang

Offline tb444

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2010, 01:36:13 pm »
Hi Rhino,
First of all +1 to only needing the fine setting, it probably takes more time to regrade than to do the whole knife on fine. This will also reduce the chances that you wont spend long enough with the grader getting the stone really fine-as Jeff has said before you're looking for it to feel like wet glass.
Secondly what angle are you using? This will make a difference to how sharp the knifes feel and how long the edge will last. With the Henckels i'd go for a 15-20 degree bevel on each side for Chefs and parers, go up to 20-25 for a cleaver and down to a 10-15 for a slicer, again these angles are each side. This is because the bigger the angle the stronger the edge, and the lower the angle the sharper the edge, but also the weaker the edge. 15-20 degrees is a medium between the two so good for general purpose knives.
I'm not familiar with Martha Stewart knives but am guessing that they're cheaper. Cheaper knives are generally softer steel, bth because of the type of steel used, and the hardening process being less refined. As such the edge is fragile, too thin and it will fold like tin foil. So i'd stick with a 20 degree angle and not expect it to stay razor sharp for long, a couple of weeks of home use.

When you grind, keep a note of where you have positioned the jig and the angle used, e.g Chefs knife, X inches from bolster, 20 degree angle. That way next time you sharpen the knife you have repeatability which will help save time and reduce the steel removed each time.
Running a magic marker along the edge before you start, and checking that you are removing it evenly is useful as a visual reference of progress.

+1 to Herman's suggestion. When you have finished grinding in the edge, reduce the pressure and do 2-3 strokes each side just under the weight of the knife, swapping sides after each stroke. This will weaken any burr you have created and i find gives a finer grind.

On the leather wheel don't spend too much time. If you're free handing and nt used to it you han round the edge very easily. 2-3 passes each side.

Once done hold the knife with a light shining on the edge and look at it edge on. If you can see light reflecting off the edge you didn't go far enough with the grind, so go back to the stone and do a few more passes. You should have an edge that you can't see.

Another good test is to get a piece of paper. Slowly slice through it moving from heel to tip. If you go slow you can feel if it any point it 'grabs' at the paper and tries to tear it. At that point is either a blunt area or a part of the burr you have not removed. Hone and try again. It should slice the paper effortlessly.

You'll find practice speeds you up, and as you get used to sharp knives you'll know what you're looking for.

As a final thought, if you haven't already, watch Jeff's video on using the tormek for knives, as ever these short videos are extremely useful for seeing the theory in action.


Offline Ken S

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2016, 01:18:07 pm »
Rhino,

Unless the knife is badly damaged, I doubt you will need the coarse cutting action at all. I do almost all knife sharpening with the fine cutting action and the leather wheel.

Watch your honing angle on the Martha Stewart knives. You may have brought the angle too high and flattened the edge. As others have said, cheap knives are cheap because the steel is inferior. You can put an edge on them, but it won't last.

This seemed very valid to me.

Ken

Offline JAS VT

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2016, 01:40:21 pm »
I was perplexed by the workflow question as well. The answers to the question, the suggestion to start out with a 3/4 Irwin chisel and other tips have been very helpful to this beginner. Thank you and hello from Vermont. John

Offline Ken S

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2016, 02:02:54 pm »
Welcome to the forum, John. I have many happy memories and some fine instruction from two Zone VI photographic workshops in Putney many years ago.

I am pleased you have found the 3/4" chisel exercise useful. I still believe it is the ideal "first step" in learning the Tormek, as well as a useful method for comparing different grinding wheel grit finishes.

The question of when to begin with the fine graded wheel is not covered in the handbook. I hope by reviving this topic to have the forum provide a good answer. A good answer for this question should benefit both knife sharpeners and wood carvers. I do not hesitate to write in my copies of the handbook. It is my main reference source.

Ken

Offline JAS VT

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 01:21:25 am »
Thank you Ken. I share your love of photography. Vermont provides me with many opportunities to practice.
 I would interested to know if there are any experienced Tormek users in Vermont. At some point, it would be helpful to check in with a live body to learn if I am using the tool correctly and if I am picking up any bad habits.

Offline Ken S

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 02:18:42 am »
John,

One of the downsides to the digital forum world is that most of us have no idea where the other members live.

Two suggestions on meeting Vermont Tormekers:

1) Post a new topic under Tormek General "Wanting to meet Vermont Tormek Users". That should get the attention of any active Vermonters on the forum. (You might even bag a few New Hampshire members.)

2) Check the tormek.com website for dealers in Vermont. I just found one in Montpelier, although their website doesn't mention Tormek. A backup for this is to contact Affinity Tool, the importer, and inquire about vermont area dealers. If you contact the store, preferably in person, inquire who is the resident Tormek expert. That person might be able to put you in contact with local Tormek users. The most diplomatic way might be to leave your email address with this person.

As to knife procedure, I suggest you cut out the coarse graded grinding wheel and begin with thefine graded wheel. A knife blade is flat, so the fine grading should last well. Try it and see. Jeff Farris recommended this. Assuming you are happy with it, it eliminates the time spent grading the grinding wheel.

I know, the active readers are expecting me to get on my kenjig soapbox. I won't do that now. However, in my opinion, it is worth pursuing.

Keep posting and good luck.

Ken





Offline Ken S

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Re: Any suggestions on workflow when sharpening kitchen knives
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2018, 09:42:55 pm »
An older, but interesting topic. In my opinin, it is worth rereading.

Ken